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Teenaged Hong Kong film-goers can look forward to seeing (from left) Joey King, Alice Lee and Ki Hong Lee in the film Wish Upon (category; IIB), directed by John R. Leonetti. Ryan Philippe co-stars

Review | Film review: Wish Upon – supernatural teen horror a dull watch for most people over 13

Even the film’s intended teen audience may find a story that mixes teenage problems like bullying with the supernatural lacks suspense

2/5 stars

Wish Upon may serve as a good introduction to horror movies for 13-year-old girls, but it will be a dull watch for anyone else – and even its intended teen audience may find it lacks the required suspense. There are a couple of good ideas in the mix, but this film by director John R. Leonetti (Annabelle) generally dishes up standard low-budget horror clichés.

The story mixes teenage problems like bullying with the supernatural. Clare (Joey King) is a poor kid who’s picked on at school because her dad Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe) goes dumpster diving for a living. When Jonathan gives her a Chinese wishing pot he found in a dustbin, Clare wishes that her tormentor, the pretty Darcie (Josephine Langford), would rot away.

Josephine Langford is on the receiving end in Wish Upon.

Darcie is struck down by a mysterious disease, and Clare makes more wishes. When people close to her start to die horrible deaths, Clare turns to her Chinese schoolmate Ryan (played by the Korean-American Ki Hong Lee) for help.

The film is elevated by a moral dilemma that reminds of a classic Faustian bargain or, more recently, the popular Japanese manga Death Note . Clare’s social standing and wealth are improved by the wishing pot, yet she must pay a high price to use it. But some inexpressive acting diminishes any impact Wish Upon could have had.

Joey King in the film Wish Upon.

A coda tucked away in the closing credits opens the way for a sequel, but even viewers who’ve stuck it out to the end won’t be holding their breath.

Wish Upon opens on October 19

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